How to Do a Herkie

American Icons,Sports
September 11, 2013

Herkie founder describes how to do his signature move.

Western Carolina University cheerleaders practice a stunt during a summer camp in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Courtesy of Bill Sallaz/NCA
Western Carolina University cheerleaders practice a stunt during a summer camp in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Cheerleading’s most basic jump is the herkie, named for cheerleading pioneer Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer, who created his namesake move during the 1940s as a cheerleader at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Herkie creation was an accident. Learn why.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown, as described by Herkimer himself, then 86, during a 2012 interview with American Profile:

  1. Stand up and place your arms at your side.
  2. Clasp your hands in front.
  3. Thrust your arms straight overhead into a “V” shape. Bend the knees slightly. Keeping your back straight and head up, swing your arms down, crossing at the wrists.
  4. Spring off the balls of your feet and jump. As you jump, punch one arm straight up high while placing the other hand on your hip, and bend your leg behind you on the same side (try to kick your bottom). At the same time, kick your other leg straight out in front of you. “Throw the arm up,” Herkimer says, “and the leg will come up by itself.”
  5. Land with knees slightly bent. Finish with hands on hips or arms at sides. “That makes it a nice, clean, good-looking jump,” Herkimer says.

Note: Herkies usually are performed on eight counts. Arms at side (one), clasp hands (two), circle arms (three, four), jump up and punch, (five, six), land and finish (seven, eight).

Tip: To visualize how your herkie should look in mid-air, try this:
Sit down. Extend your strongest, most flexible leg straight out, then bend the other leg in a 45-degree angle behind you. (Picture a hurdler’s stance). Your legs will be in this position during the airborne jump.

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Cheerleading pioneer Lawrence Herkimer demonstrates his “herkie” jump, circa 1958.

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